THOUSANDS of jobs are on the cards for Nelson Mandela Bay over the next two years as multiple investments totalling billions of rands are in the pipeline for the Coega Industrial Development Zone (IDZ).
With a combined estimate of more than 3000 jobs, the projects will hopefully put a dent in the staggering unemployment figures in the Bay.
The R8-billion projects follow other massive infrastructure investments – worth R5.4-billion – being implemented at the IDZ.
One is the R600-million Chinese company FAW's truck assembly plant, construction of which started in December.
The announcement of the new projects was made by Eastern Cape premier Noxolo Kiviet during her state-of-the-province address in Bhisho on Friday.
Kiviet said the investments were in various sectors, including metals beneficiation, energy, automotive, chemicals and the agro-industry.
But the projects exclude the proposed R81-billion PetroSA refinery – dubbed Project Mthombo (Project Fountain) – which is weeks away from finally getting cabinet approval.
Construction on the refinery is expected to start by the end of next year.
Coega Development Corporation spokesman Ayanda Vilakazi said negotiations for the R8-billion projects mentioned by Kiviet were in the process of being finalised.
But he said he could not disclose too many details due to the sensitive nature of negotiations and until all the agreements had been secured.
"Some investors have been secured and will soon start with building their plants, and others are still in the advanced stage of negotiations.
"These are all new projects – new money that will be coming to the city," Vilakazi said.
The majority of the investors were international companies, with a few from South Africa.
"We are hoping that the projects will be implemented this year, but some are very big so it could move to the next financial year – it all depends on the discussions and when they are finalised," Vilakazi said.
He added: "These investments should bring 3000 jobs. This is through the construction phase and then we would be looking at direct jobs."
Coega's business development department is largely responsible for the new investments, but politicians and the Bay municipality have also assisted in attracting businesses.
Mayor Zanoxolo Wayile said he could not provide much detail. But he added: "On [Tuesday] there will be a stakeholders' meeting with the premier where we will be discussing all the projects in detail.
"We identified that there were core areas in the state of the province address that will impact on our local economy ...
"We'll have a much better understanding of the projects after the stakeholders' meeting," Wayile said. The municipality's trade and investment director, Anele Qaba, said in November last year that four projects were coming to the Bay. He estimated the number of jobs to be created by these at 10710.
Projects included a reinvestment by Clover Industries to expand its Port Elizabeth plant in Perseverance, to increase the supply of milk on a national scale as well as produce fresh milk and Tropika for the Eastern Cape.
The capital investment from that project would be more than R100-million and 107 jobs would be created.
The other three projects included the Bay West City shopping centre, a call centre at the Coega IDZ and another company in a specialised field, which would be one of a kind in South Africa.